Hero Splendor iSmart Review
- Words and Images- Yatharth Chauhan
I’ll be honest here. I am really not the kind who’ll be excited about having to test one of the least powerful bikes on sale in India today. This time though, it was different. I had keys of the new Hero Splendor iSmart lying in front of me and I could barely wait to wash myself up, grab a quick bite and leave home to spend an entire Friday with the latest Splendor variant, riding it on a pre-planned course that consisted of everything from no traffic, low traffic to spending an entire evening in the rush hours. So what’s so exciting about the new Splendor iSmart that makes a totally sane bike aficionado, who likes his bikes fast and sharp, so interested in a 100cc commuter motorcycle? Well, for starters, the new Splendor could soon become one of the highest selling bike in the world! If that’s not enough to grab your attention, allow me to inform you that the new bike comes with a feature that has so far been found only in four wheels costing at least fifteen times the money one requires to buy this small bike here! This Hero Splendor iSmart review should help you understand why I was so interested in spending some time with this new bike.
The new Hero Splendor iSmart looks far from the Splendor we all grew up seeing, which means it gets most of the panels from the new gen NXG model, along with some updated bits that make it instantly recognizable among the plethora of Splendor variants that have been on sale. The bike features a new two tone paint job, which along with bits like the split grab rails (yes, you read it right), five spoke alloy wheels, and white pinstriping on the rims, make the iSmart look considerably more premium than the ‘non-Smart’ variants. Once astride, you are quick to notice the new speedo console, which comes with an analogue speedo, an analogue fuel meter and a handful of tell-tale lights. While the plastic quality here is top notch (for a commuter motorcycle), we aren’t half as impressed with that little sticker there, which tries super hard to mimic carbon fibre, and fails miserably!
In all, the new Hero Splendor iSmart is definitely among the ‘smarter’ looking bikes in its segment and what’s even better is the fact that it manages to have an identity of its own in a world which has already seen a gazillion Splendor variants so far.
While the new Hero Splendor iSmart features list isn’t really the longest in its segment, the i3s feature makes this bike really unique and appealing. The new iSmart’s claim to fame is its Idle Stop-Start System (i3s) feature, which allows the new bike to have an edge over its immediate rivals by helping it achieve better fuel economy. The new Idle Stop-Start system cuts off the ignition as soon as it senses that the engine has been in Neutral for 30 seconds. The engine comes back into life as soon as the rider pulls the clutch to shift into a gear and move. This is exactly how the new feature saves some unleaded! In essence, this feature is much like the ‘Micro-Hybrid’ technology that Mahindra cars come with. Other than this promising feature, the bike also gets an electric starter, a side stand indicator, tubeless tyres, a trip meter, and split grabrails.
While the features list manages to impress, we would still love to have a front disc brake, an engine kill switch and a DC headlight. Lest we forget, the bike also comes with tubeless tires, a novelty in entry level bikes segment!
Hero i3S — Does it really work?
— Hero i3s On/Off toggle switch
As we said above, this bike’s talking point is its i3s engine start/stop technology, which has been added in a bid to enhance the fuel economy of an already frugal motor. So, is this new feature merely a marketing gimmick or does it really deliver what it promises? Well, with a similar doubt in our mind, we set off with the bike, with an aim to verify Hero’s claim of a stellar fuel efficiency. The preparations for our little test here saw us completely emptying the bike’s tank, until the last drop of unleaded. Next, we topped it up with exactly one litre of petrol, set the tripmeter to zero, and ventured out on a pre defined route. This route saw us riding in little traffic, moderate traffic and peak hour congestion. We also pushed the bike on a couple of occasions, where we clocked a speedo indicated top whack of above 80 kmph. Worth a mention here is that not once did we ride the bike in a way to extract the maximum fuel economy. Finally, a couple of hours later, the bike ran out of fuel, with 69 kms showing on the trip meter! Now, even if you take into account the minor errors that might have crept in, you’re looking at a fuel mileage of a staggering 67 kmpl plus!
Kudos to Hero MotoCorp for not just bringing this feature to entry level motorcycles but also for the flawless manner in which it functions!
Hero i3S – 10/10
Engine and Gearbox
The new Hero Splendor is powered by, you guessed it right, the same 97.2cc engine that has been in business since forever, and will probably continue to power bikes even after World War III! This single cylinder carburetted engine has a max power of 7.69 bhp BHP @ 7500 RPM and develops a peak torque of 8.04 Nm at 4500 RPM.While this age-old motor doesn’t exactly make the Splendor an obvious choice for drag racing, it does boast of class leading refinement and low NVH. The engine comes mated to a four speed gearbox (I bet you guessed it right again!), with relatively short first and second cog. The well thought-of gearing, along with sufficient torque levels, help the rider to almost forget about gear changes and the bike can trudge along in traffic conditions all day in third gear. It can also cleanly accelerate from speeds as low as 25-30 kmph to 80 kmph, in fourth gear!
Engine and Gearbox- 7/10
Ride, Handling and Braking
The new Hero Splendor iSmart sports conventional telescopic forks up front and a set of twin shock absorbers at the rear. Quite obviously, the new Splendor iSmart is no corner-carving tool and while the light weight and neutral ride handling manners ensure that the bike is fairly nimble while cutting though the traffic, it will disappoint you when you decide to go apex hunting. But then, worth keeping in mind is the fact that this bike has no intentions of coming across as a performance oriented machine and for what it promises, it more than delivers. In a manner typical of commuter motorcycles, the rider sits upright on the bike and the positioning of the handlebar is just spot on!
Hero commuters are known for their decent ride quality and the iSmart is no different in this area. At city speeds, the bike offers a fairly comfortable ride, which is further enhanced by the supportive and comfortable seat. However, it is to be kept in mind that the iSmart is a small bike, with a small wheelbase and skinny tyres, which means that at high speeds, undulations unsettle the iSmart.
The iSmart comes equipped with drum brakes on both its wheels and an optional front disc brake isn’t available even as an option. The front brake lacks in terms of bite and one needs to rely more on the rear drum for the stopping duties. A disc brake is solely missed here.
Ride, Handling and Braking- 6/10
The new Hero Splendor iSmart is not the most powerful bike in its segment. It also doesn’t score too well in areas such as handling, braking, et al. However, in spite of all this, there are good chances that it will soon become the highest selling variant of the Splendor, the undisputed king of Indian entry level bike market. In a segment where fuel efficiency is the sole deciding factor for a prospective buyer, the new iSmart has a lot going for it. No Splendor variant has ever been as efficient and the i3s seems to have done a fine job with enhancing the FE of Hero’s most successful model ever. Factor in other plus points such as refreshed looks, adequately long features list and the peace of mind that comes associated with a Hero product, the new Splendor iSmart has a lot going for itself. And the icing on the cake- the new bike is priced less than INR 3000 higher than the standard variant! That’s quite a value for money proposition there.
Hero Splendor iSmart Prices-
- INR 47,250 (ex-showroom Delhi)
- INR 49,967 (ex-showroom Mumbai)
- INR 48,192 (ex-showroom Chennai)
- INR 48,549 (ex-showroom Kolkata)
- INR 48,014 (ex-showroom Bengaluru)